To the Filipino athlete

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2019 - 12:00am

This is for you.

This is your show. We are just spectators, scribes, cheerleaders.

You have dedicated all your energy, your sweat, time and ache to these moments. You have worked on yourself, perhaps more than we will ever experience, until you had nothing left, then found more. That, no one will ever equal, know, or take away from you. You have given beyond mere mortals’ measure, and continue to give. You are selfless, and that is why we love you.

Whereas many of us shrink from the glare of the spotlight, that is where you thrive, where your naked brilliance gleams brightest. You can’t escape it; you rush toward it. There is no hiding. Ready or not. Injured or in pain. Sad or joyous. Lonely or fulfilled. Homesick or not. Equipped adequately or not. You fight on, because you must, for us. And that is why we cheer for you.

Those above you, around you, with you, may doubt. They may say you can’t do it. But you do it, anyway, knowing how much harder it is to build a legacy than it is to spit on someone’s name. We are not those people. We realize how painful it is to forge your own path. As the saying goes, the first one through the wall always gets bloodied. And that is why we salute you.

There are those above you who may treat you like chattel, possessions, slaves, nothing. Keep going, anyway. They will never be remembered. They will never know the glory of the fight, or even as Theodore Roosevelt said, failing while daring greatly. They hide in the shadows; you flourish in the light. And that is why we speak up for you.

Some will say we shouldn’t speak out, complain, expose wrongdoing. They attack us, but only with words. They can’t stop the action of stepping forward. Driven by your example, we forge on, anyway. You don’t cease; neither shall we. And that is why we aspire to be you.

Nobody sees the isolation, the separation, the sacrifice. Nobody understands what you go through, when your body aches from waking to sleeping for a higher goal. When you face stumbling blocks, roadblocks, blockheads. When you shed tears alone, fearing you are not enough. Nobody understands. Nobody but us. And that is why we stand with you, to tell you that you are more than enough.

Still others will try to steal what is yours, what you’ve bled for, at times without you knowing. They consider themselves above you, while needing the credit they take that is rightfully yours. Unmindful, you carry this unnecessary burden, wear the flag, run the race, fight the fight. And that is why we will protect you.

So the Southeast Asian Games formally open, with bumps along the way, intentional or otherwise. Let the ignorant try to tear us down though we would never speak or write anything ill of our athletes. We are simply doing our job, by clearing the path that lets you do yours. Let them say what they want. You do what you do best, and that is be at your best. Let us deal with those who demean the spirit of the Games.

This is your moment, your time. We pray you win. And if you do not, we cheer you on, anyone. You will go on to greater things. This is part of your journey, and ours. We know that, even facing defeat, you will go down fighting. After all, you are the best of us all, the best of the Filipino.

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